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Phuket Vice Governor  Dr Sommai Preechasin with media at her shoulder

Phuket's Online English Media Meets to Offer Advice on Phuket's Image

Thursday, July 12, 2012
PHUKET: Some online sites overseas linked isolated Phuket incidents together to convey a wrong impression about safety on the holiday island, Phuket Vice Governor Dr Sommai Preechasin said this week.

She was speaking at an innovative meeting with representatives from Phuket's English-language media outlets in Phuket City.

Like most meetings at Provincial Hall, the island's administrative headquarters, the gathering was open to be reported.

It was generally agreed that authorities on Phuket could help to make sure coverage of events on Phuket was as accurate as possible, especially for island-based online outlets that also have an international readership.

Phuketwan journalist Chutima Sidasathian said an invitation had been extended to Phuket tourism organisations to supply news and information considered to be ''positive,'' but the offer had yet to be taken up.

Editor Alan Morison added that Phuket needed to take advantage of ''good'' news for public relations purposes whenever it happened.

The current holiday visit by football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo presented a chance for Phuket to ensure its image was enhanced.

There was no sign yet of media releases spreading internationally from Phuket to mark the Ronaldo visit, so it could be a missed opportunity, he said.

Phuket Gazette Managing Director Oranee Hildebrand earlier made the point that Phuket outlets were skilled at sorting their own journalistic priorities.

''We know what we should report or should not report,'' she said.

Phuket News Executive Editor Alasdair Forbes said greater transparency was required. There would be less confusion about some events on Phuket if there was a central point where police released details as they became available, he said.

Chief Gazette reporter Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai said: ''Sometimes we call different people and are given different information. Reference names of sources are something we require, too.''

Dr Sommai said that Phuket's authorities and vice governors were available if checks needed to be made about the facts surrounding newsworthy incidents.

The meeting was told at one point that Phuket's English-language media was now ''a business, with competition to publish stories first.''

But Khun Chutima said that Phuketwan did not have business objectives and that accuracy was more important than speed.

''If one day Phuket becomes a perfectly safe place, good for tourists and for residents, we are happy to close Phuketwan,'' she said.

She said Phuket authorities should always feel free to contact Phuket media outlets to put a different point or view or to update information.

Vice Governor Dr Sommai said she understood the problem of what should be reported and when.

During the Phuket Youth Games, the name of a boy who died in a motorcycle crash had been held back until his parents had been informed.

This week's meeting is expected to lead to further talks aimed at ensuring events on Phuket are reported accurately, on Phuket and internationally.

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